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What You Are Now Is Where You Were in Your Teenage Years

By Stephanie Cunningham February 02, 2022 Lifestyle

I recently read a Facebook post about a 40-year reunion. Four men had a band when they were in high school. Three of them went on to non-music careers but got together again at the reunion. They started practicing and reinvented the band even though they did not live close to one another.

A reporter asked one member why he wanted to bring the band back to life. Music hadn’t been an interest of his since high school.

He said that interests and values he had as a teenager were becoming more attractive now because he had more time. Activities that he did as a teenager continued to have a hold on him.

How We Develop Our Values

So, to the title of this blog, it’s related to Dr. Morris Massey’s work on how we develop our values. Massey theorised that we first accept our parents’ and culture’s values. As a teenager, we start interacting with others and become aware of alternative cultures and value systems.

We then begin to develop our own value system as we meld these influences together. The bandmates I mentioned above valued creativity and explored that value through music as teenagers and then again as retirees.

What is the lesson for the over 60 crowd who are planning retirement? According to Dr. Massey, those values created as a teenager are still the bedrock of our value system.

We may have had to change our values then (no, you can’t be a musician; you will starve to death) as we began our working lives, but things are different now.

When thinking about retiring and what is the purpose of the next stage of our life, values are the lens that helps us focus on activities that are meaningful.

The Reality We Can Choose

Our bandmates are living this theory. They loved music when they were young and now that they have the finances and the time, they have returned to explore that interest. They continue to value creativity and music.

Exploring values and interests from the late teenage years is one way to identify a retirement purpose. Being more inclusive about your values and not emphasising only those activities you valued during your career is important. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What interested you as a teenager?
  • What did you think was important then?
  • What have you always wanted to do or to learn and never had the time?

Look for the principle that made the activity attractive and see if there is something similar that would be interesting. Some retirees duplicate their skills from work because those skills are satisfying.

An example is the manager that is now a member of not-for-profit governing boards. Others decide to explore long-ago interests and values. The artists, musicians, writers, and athletes begin to appear again, like with our bandmates.

Bound to Change a Similar Reality – or Not?

Sometimes those long-ago interests appeared very contradictory compared to people’s lifelong career. But viewed through the lens of values, the career and the new interests were similar.

For instance, I have a friend who values helping others in non-traditional ways. The value remained the same although the activities were very different – law professor to crystal healer!

Finding something that you want to commit your time and energy to may not be immediately obvious. The bandmates met at their reunion, and it’s unlikely their purpose in attending was to restart the band.

Plan your retirement but be open to unexpected opportunities. The lesson here is to be aware of what gives your joy. Planning for and being open to new experiences are equally valid methods to find your retirement purpose.

Developing activities that satisfied you in your working life, or those based on your teenage values, or such found in unexpected opportunities are all ways to answer that question…

What am I going to do now?

To keep vital and healthy, retirees must continue learning, interacting with others, and being physically active. Basing activities on your value system will be the most fulfilling long term.

What gives you joy in retirement that fits with your values? Have you decided to try activities you used to enjoy back when you were a teenager? Please share your experiences below!

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The Author

After taking early retirement as a policy officer, Stephanie Cunningham moved to Australia and earned general and specialized certifications to teach senior yoga. She taught classes for 10 years, then started a podcast about changing the perception of yoga.

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